By Sarah Schroeder
Images courtesy of iStock by Getty Images
Cows, cows, cows. One of Qatar’s dignified responses to the Saudi-led blockade included sending 4,000 cows into the country! The blockade was imposed on Qatar on June 5, 2017, just over 3 months ago. Because it relied on the import of dairy products from the blockading countries, Qatar decided to improve its own dairy industry by multiplying the number of cows in the country. Milk cows will be flown into Qatar in an attempt to make the dairy industry more sustainable and meet the demands of the country.
But now, we’re wondering… where do they all go?
We know where they’re from; they’re German, American, and Australian cows, ready to begin their lives in the desert. But is there space for all 4,000 cows in Qatar? Will they miss the green grass they grew up with in Germany, Australia, or the US?
The cows will fly in a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 freighter to arrive at Hamad International Airport. The first shipment arrived on July 11 from Europe with 165 Holstein cows.
Because traveling is usually tiring and exhausting, Qatar Airways made sure the cattle were flying safely and comfortably in cargo carriers that meet IATA’s Live Animal Regulations for air transportation – possibly the animal equivalent of a business-class upgrade.
Once the cows arrived in the unknown climate, they were driven carefully to their new home – the Baladna Farm. The remaining cattle, were set to come into the country via Qatar Airways, with 20-60 more cattle shipments over the weeks that followed.
New home – Baladna Farm
Baladna is a subsidiary of Power International Holding in Qatar. Its Chairman, Mr. Moutaz Al Khayyat said: “We’re proud to expand the dairy industry in the State of Qatar, and are thankful to Qatar Airways Cargo for the expedient, safe, and secure transportation of the cattle that have now safely arrived at their new home, Baladna Farm. With the arrival of the dairy cows, we aim to meet 30-35 per cent of the imported milk demand in the country within two months.”
The Baladna Farm already consists of 10,000 milking cows, 40,000 Awassi sheep, and 5,000 goats, and is located in Umm Al Hawaya. The farm is as large as 2,000,000 Sq m, with 1,800,000 Sq m for barns and related facilities, and 200,000 Sq m for milking process facilities that use the best practices available and latest technologies.
For the new cattle arriving since the blockade, Baladna has built special cowsheds with temperature control systems, 50 km north of Doha, so they can better endure the high summer temperatures. These sheds are over 700,000 Sq m large, with new grey sheds and green verdant grass. If you want to get an idea of the size – that’s almost 70 football fields!
Photo courtesy of Baladna
With the 4,000 new cattle, Baladna plans to meet 30 per cent of the dairy demand of Qatar’s population of 2.7 million – a step forward for Qatar’s National Vision 2030. These plans already existed before the blockade. However, instead of flying, the cattle would have had to travel to Qatar on ships. Because the cattle were set to arrive in September, it was easy for Baladna to push up the date of the animals’ arrival as the facilities were ready for use!
Photo courtesy of Baladna
Part of something bigger
Qatar’s vision includes being self-sufficient and, also, able to export agricultural goods by the year 2030, and the government and local businesses are sparing no effort to make this happen.
The number of local farms has increased to 1,290 according to 2015 statistics, while the number of greenhouses has risen to 3,700 in 230 local farms. The newest sustainable technology is used and exhibited at agriculture conventions such as Agriteq 2017. In some greenhouses, recycled water is put to use to cool down temperatures to up to 20 degrees cooler than outside, and soil made from coconut waste from Sri Lanka is utilized. Incredible!
Farms like the Ghadeer farm, with hundreds of cows from the Netherlands, and Al Rawdah farm for Al Maha dairy products, with more than 4,000 Holstein cows from the Netherlands, the US, Australia, and South Africa, offer local sources for dairy products. The Ghadeer farm was set up in 1985 as the first attempt to increase self-sufficiency in dairy in Qatar.
Since 2014, the dairy demand met in Qatar has risen from 12 to 15 per cent and is set to increase to 30-35 per cent once all 4,000 cows arrive at the Baladna farm. The Vice President of Baladna Ramis Al Khayyat is very ambitious and announced in July that he aims for Qatar to be fully self-sufficient within 9 months.
Apart from making history with the 4,000 cows being flown in to create a new diary industry in Qatar, it can also be seen as an act of resistance. Qatar has shown that it doesn’t give in to the demands made by the blockading countries, or let the sovereignty and integrity of the country stand under attack. Instead, new developments and advances were embraced as a reaction to the blockade, and the fast-growing dairy industry is an example of this resistance.
As for the cows, in the cool sheds and green grass, we hope they’ll soon feel at home and run happily in the farms of Qatar.
Tell us what other areas you’d like to see Qatar become more self-sustaining by sharing your thoughts with us in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to give us a like and a share – you know it keeps us going!
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